Monday, December 22, 2014

Schoolyard Notes

I love to pick up notes discarded on school campuses.  They can be quite entertaining.  Recently, I saw one folded neatly and flapping in the wind.  Here was the message of an elementary student to her friend. 

“from: Jane* to: John*                                                                                 *Names changed

When the world is crashin down theres only one who can save me god he loves me he saves me when waves are crashin down He’s there to save me He loves me He saved me He rose again  He’s gonna fly me on top of the world he saved me.”

I can only imagine what John was facing.  It could have been any number of things.  The world today is a much more daunting place in which to live than I remember.  In elementary school I can remember some basic fears like dying and the boogie man.  Whatever his fear, Jane had the just right answer. I love that this friend took the time to comfort her classmate with Truth, God-sized Truth that came from heaven to be with us, humbled himself to be born among us in a stable…Truth that would courageously and compassionately take our fears, our failures and our sins to a cross…Truth that would save, comfort, hold and keep us.  What faith in eternity!  “He’s gonna fly me on top of the world!” May you find the joyous truth of the Christmas child this week and may he set you on top of the world!”
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

11 months ago....

We all have experienced the reality that our children grow up too fast.  We often tell young parents “Don’t blink!  They will be grown before you know it.”

Tina and I recall those wonderful years when Josh would say, “Hold me Daddy, hold me.” “Yook Daddy, yook!  A heckodoctor!” “Daddy, Daddy, yook!  Yook!  An aeropwayne and God made it.” Lauren kept it a mystery for months when she would say, “I shibbied.” Josh called waffles “fawwles.”  We finally figured out that a heckodoctor was a helicopter.  And one day at the table, Lauren pushed her plate away and proclaimed, “I shibbied!” and we knew at once the meaning.  Soon after that day she matured and began to say “I’m finished.” And to not leave Dayton out, he would hold his hands out and bid with his fingers, “I pick oooh up Daddy, I pick oooh up” whenever he wanted to be held.  I am dying here in my office in tears.  You know how heart-wrenching it is to see those years slip away. 

Eleven months ago, we joined Josh and Dani in another milestone—they married.  Theirs was a wonderful “wedding extravaganza!” We have watched Josh move out, begin work, fix up a house, and become a grown man.  It was all so sudden!  And you know what, as our hearts quake for those early years, we are so happy!  We are so proud of all three of our children.  Their maturing is a blessing!  It is the joy of our hearts to see them grow up, take responsibility for their lives, mature in their individual walk with Christ and become adults. 

This is exactly what the apostle Paul speaks to directly in this letter to the believers in Ephesus. We thrill the Holy Spirit in us as we mature to new people in Christ Jesus.  It pleases the Father.  It honors the Son, Jesus Christ.  Our speech, behavior, attitude, actions, and thought- life change to the likeness of Christ Jesus through the Spirit who now lives in each new believer. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I have been underlining the mention of God’s loving-kindness each time I encounter it in my Bible.  It occurs over 180 times. Paul encourages the Ephesian believers in 4:32 to model that same character trait “just as God in Christ Jesus.”  He says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other.” That could be a summary statement for us today concerning just how to move our lives from church member to Jesus follower.

Recently a great illustration of loving-kindness was displayed in Summerville, SC for all to see.  Dana Rothschild, a mother of two, was running out of time with her one remaining kidney failing.  Kathy Davenport, also a mother of two, sensed God’s leading to at least be tested for the match.  When it was discovered that she was a perfect match, she did not hesitate to reach out to a complete stranger and give her life.

More recently, we applauded the heroic rescue of a man from Second Mill pond.  The officer, Quintin Eley, observed that the driver was not responding as the car began to sink, so without hesitation, he dove into the frigid waters and rescued the man.

None of us may be able to imagine ourselves reacting in such selfless acts. These isolated acts of sacrifice illustrate for us a shadow of the loving-kindness God demonstrated by His Son Jesus as He laid His life down for us.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jesus is the Center

I read a great missionary story this morning that may re-arrange your nativity this Christmas.  The missionary shared that in the move from America to the field in Asia, they were only able to carry one Christmas decoration, so they took their nativity set.  Christmas season came and it was so empty of our Christmas traditions, but she reported the joy of setting out the nativity set.  Each day after the housekeeper would arrange all the animals, shepherds and wise men in a circle with the baby Jesus in the center.  She placed them in order thinking the housekeeper had dusted and did not know how to arrange them, but after several weeks of this re-arrangement she inquired and the housekeeper (who was one of very few believers in this village) insisted that Christ should always be the center of everything.  Perhaps we too would reconsider how we arrange our nativity to reflect our own desire for Jesus to be the center!

Monday, December 8, 2014


Imagine the first year in prison for a life sentence.  There is plenty of time now to reflect on your life, the decisions that were made without much forethought, the mistakes made and emotions that ran wild. You seem to yourself like a distant stranger.  What happened?  I am sure that every story is different, but this is one way I can imagine it.  Looking at life…behind bars…seeing hopeless men all around…birds flying freely in out of my cage, lizards able to go and come as they please…I would just be very sick and very lost.  I would reminisce about childhood’s innocence.  God, where did I go wrong?  How will I ever survive here? Recently I visited a prison and considered the contrasts of these scenes: freedom and incarceration.  Vividly on display is our incarceration to our flesh and this world contrasted with the freedom found in the grace and mercy of the cross.  The bird and the lizard roam from freedom to incarceration with total liberty in both.  So often we get so lost in our own works and efforts in salvation and the work God designated the Spirit's domain that we incarcerate ourselves...over and again.  In Christ there is truth and freedom, know Him and be truly free, all the time everywhere!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

America, the Wanderer

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty has coined a phrase, “Happy! Happy! Happy!” America is a people very confused when it comes to happiness.  There is a moral compass of truth where history and God’s record proves a guaranteed journey to not only a satisfying and happy life here, but the promise of eternity in heaven where our language reaches its limit in describing the joy we will experience.

Everyone wants to be happy!  In pursuing our own heights of pleasure and self-gratification, we have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie.”  Case in point is the  battle that the Boy Scouts of America faced in 2013.  Immense pressure has reigned down upon this historically good, pure and upright organization to fold, to surrender and ultimately give in to those who pursue their own happiness at the cost to the innocents, the powerless and the dependent.   In 2000 and 2004, the BSA maintained their stance that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word and deed.”  Moral ground is being eroded away as more and more big companies withhold their financial support in the wake of pressure from the advocates for homosexual rights.  There is no apparent end to the impact of our turning. 
My good friend, Jim Austin, of the SCBC commented wisely, “The current Boy Scout policy controversy clearly demonstrates that when a society its moral compass, political correctness or prevailing public opinion becomes the final arbiter” and that Christians must multiply our efforts to reach and reeducate “a society that has forgotten the God of the Bible."

"Prone to wander Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Need Thee Oh I Need Thee

How desperate would you say you are to see God work?  How badly do you want to experience a moving of the Lord in your life and in the church at Crosspoint?  If you are really honest with yourself this morning, is there anything that you are asking of God today that is totally out of the scope of human possibility—one of those prayer requests that only will happen if God moves?  I remember Jesus’ statement, “You do not receive because you do not ask.”  I think we often look at life and are satisfied. 

When I ask people “How can I pray for you?” there is often a pause.  Sometimes the answer is “I’m good.” I think some have this condition, “All I need I have, and if I need anything, I can get it myself.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

John Eldridge SHOUT OUT

In Wild at Heart, John Eldridge indicated three core desires in the flight to manhood:

  • A battle to fight
  • An adventure to live
  • A beauty to rescue

I resonate with this.  It is man-stuff!  I am passionate about the battle for lost souls.  I find hunting and fishing a passion that reminds me of that important battle.  I often feel lost in rescuing my beauty, but just being reminded of my internal need drives me to protect my two girls, to pursue a love relationship with Tina and better my serve of her needs.  We are in a season of life right now where the challenges are all new and the terrain is different and difficult.  Men love challenges like that.  She was a hard one to catch when I first saw her.  But I caught her.  Now she is mine and I am hers.  We are one!  But the adventure to rescue her and pursue her has me smiling as I write this.   How do you continue to chase the caught and rescue your beauty?

I have much to learn, but I am listening.  Tina may better be able to write this and your honey may be the best source for you too.  But I think some starters would be:

  • Anticipate my needs (I hate having to ask you!)
  • Listen when I am speaking with you (Put the phone/newspaper/remote away) and look at me and respond
  • God gave me to you as your helper—stop excusing yourself and being defensive
  • Love me and show it
  • Surprise me
  • Make this beauty to rescue equally pursued as the battle to fight and adventure to win

Ask her.

What is your battle, men?  What adventure is connected to your heart and your fight?  How are you still rescuing your beautiful girl?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Flight 370

I was so encouraged by the testimony of James Woods.  His brother, Phillip, was among the missing in this spring's tragedy when the souls of the 239 people onboard Flight 370 perished over the Indian Ocean .  How horrific their last moments must have been!  Wonder with me concerning the security of eternity any may have had in the moments before their death.  Often we hear the gospel shared in the context of our not knowing when our last day on earth will be.  Most of us would be guilty of thinking, “Oh that would never happen to me!”  When asked by reporters how they are handling the tragedy, James Woods shared a family verse that is bringing them much peace and comfort. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.  He shared, “That is difficult to do right now.  But I don’t want to be cliché about our faith.  We are not just saying we will get through this by our faith.  But quite frankly, I believe in heaven and so I have a deep abiding hope and I believe God is sovereign.  Regardless of how this turns out, He is still God and He will get us through it.”  His love for his sister and brothers gripped me because I too love my brother and sister so very much.  I can only imagine the pain and agony of the heart for all the Woods family.  I love when faith shines though, don’t you? 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Wrath!  “You just wait until your father gets home!” Many of us may relate to that statement from childhood from our mothers. I received my share of looks, spankings and cancelled plans from both Mom and Dad.  Recalling my childhood, I cannot remember one spanking or other form of punishment where I sensed in my heart that my parents did not love me.  It is not just saying that “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” Love came in the explanation prior to the administration of discipline and in the restoration afterwards.  More than that, the relationship, the “being with” factor, is what held the hand of comfort and discipline in harmony.          

Monday, November 3, 2014


I have always been intrigued by cattle paths on the farm.  I can only imagine the process that led to paths so deep that you can see them on google maps! It all started with one cow.  Others followed. Soon there was beaten down grass that led to dead roots that then gave way to just dirt. Over the years, cows get stuck in the rut and walk the same old pathways.  Good warning huh? 

In similar fashion I observe roads being created. The ground is broken up and prepared.  Infrastructure is built in.  Sometimes, things have to be taken up and reformed.  As we develop as followers of Jesus, sometimes we may have to be broken up like hard soil.  Other times we may mess up and while still soft and pliable need to be reformed. As we seek to follow the path God desires for us, preferably we would get it all right and in right order.  Keep with the blue print and listen to your foreman. The path to peace, happiness and purpose can be well-paved and more rightly traveled.         Take care of your path!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Wholly Different Look

Just days before, I had placed that dry, shriveled seed in the ground.  It had no life in it.  Yet when it was buried, God brought it to life.  That amazes me!  In just days that which was dead, God made into a living green plant. I will always love the lesson of the seed sown to life.  I guess that is why I love to plant a garden.  I guess that is why I love to see new life in a man trusting Jesus.  Recently, I shared with a new believer that an appointment to get new teeth was going to be life changing for him.  He corrected me and said, “No, several weeks ago, on my front porch, is when my life started changing.”  I was startled at the maturing of this new plant in Christ Jesus. In just a few weeks, he was growing in his faith enough to realize that new teeth do not transform in any comparison to new life in Christ.  I stood corrected and marveled at what God was doing right before my eyes. 
“That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own” I Corinthians 15:36-38.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Death Is Approaching!

I was so saddened this week by an incident in our backyard.  We have so enjoyed feeding the birds and providing nesting homes for bluebirds and Carolina Chickadees.  Our bluebird parents have worked so hard feeding the youngster in the birdhouse behind our shed.  Monday, when I came home, I was just beat.  It was a long and emotionally draining day, so I spent the last few moments of light in the hammock.  I was enjoying the birds singing and noticed urgency in the songs of the bluebirds and purple finches.  I failed to realize that Cookie, our calico cat, was on the prowl.  Had I been more alert, I would have realized the frantic cries may have been to me, “Get up!! Help us!!” Cookie caught and killed the bluebird baby.  As Christians, we warn of the coming wrath not unlike the finches and bluebirds as they urged the young bird to fly and take cover through their flying and singing—“Death is approaching!”  We preach a gospel message that demands repentance and faith.  In the backyard story, we could argue that the bird was innocent.  In our story, none are innocent.  The Bible clearly shows us that we are all guilty before God and are totally dependent on His grace to save us. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014


At the heart of God’s will from our human perspective is the question “Why?”  Why do we have to fear cancer?  Why did mother and daddy divorce?  Why did ______ have to die? 

As I gazed off of the page, I noticed on the bird bath a one-legged purple finch.  I have seen waterfowl with amputations from turtle bites, but I wondered “How did this cute little fellow lose his leg?  And why?” 

A favorite passage of many is in Romans 8: 28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  There is a peace about that verse.  It tells me that if I am His, no matter what may come my way; in the end all is good; all will be well.  I can trust God with all the ultimate outcomes.

R.C. Sproul explained it this way using the story of Joseph as an illustration.  There is the proximate purpose (close at hand) of things and there is the remote purpose (the distant and ultimate) of things. Joseph summed up his life and God’s purposes in Genesis 50:20, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.”  No matter the current circumstances in your life, remember these truths that help us live life trusting in the promise of never-ever that “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:39

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Far Country

In a sense, while living here on this earth, we are always in the “far country.” So every day is a day when you and I can rise up, turn away from all that entices and honor our heavenly Father in gratitude, worship and obedience.  Come on home, prodigal!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Caterpillar Faith

Recently, I walked by a suspended caterpillar.  It was hanging in midair with an invisible tether.  Pausing to behold this feat of nature, I recalled Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, "Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  The take away is that often our faith is like that caterpillar.  We cannot behold with our eyes the power, love and sovereignty of God and His Spirit as He works in our lives to save us and grow our faith through His Spirit.  But we can learn from this picture.  The caterpillar was not stressing out.  It was not insecure.  It showed no symptoms of doubting faith, but rested in the place, position, favor and grace of its Creator.  It showed no indication of working extremely hard to prove it was a caterpillar, to prove its worth, or to improve its right to be held.  Another take away lesson was just simply to abide in the invisible presence of God’s Spirit promised to us by Jesus. When we respond to God’s love and favor for us as His, we can rest secure in a tether that never can be broken.  I hope you will be encouraged this morning in your faith by this simple picture that has stayed with me this week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


We love sunflowers.  They seem to smile and say “Hello!” It always has saddened me when they finish blooming each year.  They grow heavy as they turn down to drop their load of seeds to either feed the wildlife or sustain the next generation.  This year, I noticed a lesson. The Bible teaches that our faith is demonstrated through our works.  Perhaps the closest I feel to God is when I am obedient to use the gifts He has given me to fulfill His purpose for me both personally and as a member of His body, the church. We too can present ourselves to God with the same humble, lowly manner as the sunflower.  As God matures us, we bear fruit to feed and grow others.  We bow with gratitude and humility before the Giver of every perfect gift and work. As the sunflower, when we bear fruit, we sustain a future generation of faith.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Anyone, Anywhere, At Any Time

I love reading the stories of missionaries.  Last week I read of a SE Asian missionary assigned to reach a Muslim people group of 7 million.  We can only imagine how daunting and potentially dangerous that challenge would be.  With partner, Zeke, Caleb committed “to share the Gospel with anyone, anywhere, at any time."
In Acts 1:8, we read of the biblical call to missions for each of us as we engage God’s mission for the church. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Two months later, in a very risky place, Zeke met Tom who showed interest in the Gospel.  Caleb joined in and shared the insufficiency of the OT sacrifices and that Jesus had fulfilled the Law in dying for us on the cross.  Tom was drawn by God’s Spirit and responded.  After his conversion, he said he had fifty friends who needed to hear these stories. Days later, Tom’s friend, Hardy, converted and the two have led hundreds of people to Christ.  These disciples have done the same.  It really is simple to accept that all of us are called to be a missionary wherever God has planted us this moment, this day.
Will you take the Acts 1:8 “anyone, anywhere, anytime” challenge?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Midnight Sun

I am not sure if you know my love for horses.  My first TN Walking Horse was named Midnight Sun.  His half-brother, Shadow, was a hand taller, so he was my brother’s. Both loved to play freely on the farm but could easily be caught and rode without saddle or bridle.  I know…we were spoiled.  My brother and I spent many years with these two that we grew attached quickly.  Tragedy came one spring.  The best we can tell, they were playing on the old road alongside an 8-10 foot gulley.  Sun must have slipped, fell into the gulley and may have broken his back or neck against a tree near the bottom of the fall.  It was days later that we found Shadow alone.  His countenance told us something was wrong.  I was torn up.  I spent the weekend running up the hollow to chase away the buzzards. We kept Shadow on the lower end of the farm away from the dangerous ravine.  In the fall, my brother took a ride on Shadow up the hollow not even thinking about what awaited him. He tells the story better than I but he had kind of dropped the reins and was just letting Shadow walk at his own pace.  Suddenly Shadow came to a jolting halt.  He stood with ears at attention staring straight ahead for what seemed like an agonizing tribute.  My brother was curious but didn’t put it all together until Shadow voluntarily resumed his pace with a somber gait.  He looked to the left and saw the remaining bones of Sun lying among the limestone rocks at the bottom of a painful memory.  We have often revisited that memory.  My brother wrote an “A” English ode in high school, and I tried to break a Shetland pony. Soon we got a horse named Star, a feisty horse that often tested me, but never replaced my love for Midnight Sun. 

Family dogs have spent many a trial with me sensing my need for a shoulder to cry on, an attentive ear to listen and remain loyally silent but comforting.  When our youngest left for Clemson a few weeks ago, our Maddie sensed our need for a little closer snuggle. 

This week I read a missionary story of two elephants competing to pick up a gospel tract a missionary was using to share with the local people.  Their mutual zeal to wrap their trunk around truth contributed to the locals desire to hear the gospel.  A church began among the seven believers that day.  Amazing how all creation (even horses and elephants) yearns for the restoration of the heavens and the earth when all pain and suffering will cease!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Playing 4 Quarters

Honestly it is probably more hindsight than foresight, but one can often predict the outcome of a football game in the beginning of the third quarter.  The first series can tell you if a team is playing not to lose or playing to win.  It is often observed when an under-ranked or unranked team is beating a ranked team.  It has much to do with how the offense breaks the huddle or how a defense plays with equal resolve and intensity.  I don’t think it is intentional except when a basketball team decides to delay the game.  It is my personal observation that if that scheme begins too early it sucks the life out of a player and a team.  I think it has much to do with failure to recognize a basic flaw in mankind.  We easily grow too satisfied with ourselves.  I like a coach who takes the last thirty seconds of the first half and calls aggressive plays to score even if he is up by two touchdowns.  To me it communicates to players we are calling every play, playing every down as dissatisfied and resolved.  I recognize there are exceptions, I am just saying I like that gutsy resolve.

Not many hunters go to the deer stand without a gun or bow even if he is content with the season’s harvest.  I haven’t met many fishermen who do not tie a plug at the end of the line or bait their hook.  Purpose begs for intentionality, invites a daily, uncompromising resolve to live with the last series, the last shot, the last putt, the last breath, the last day and the last testimony in mind.  Regardless of the context or the enemy, if you were asked to choose life by denying Christ or death by professing Him before men, what is your game plan?  Are you playing to keep from losing, or are you playing to win?

Thursday, October 2, 2014


In Youth Bible Study last week, we were exploring the “large letters” with which Paul wrote as he closed his letter to the Galatian believers.  How might a young person emphasize something important in a letter?  The better question became how to make sure your tweet was read on Twitter or an important part of your text was read.  Suddenly we realized how we # something or how many or which Emoji’s we select definitely brought emphasis in the tech world of this generation.

So, God gave us an insight.  If the Apostle Paul were to text us, what would he emphasize to us?  If we were to receive a tweet from him concerning our walk with Christ, what would he alert us to consider? Then we asked, “How would we know it was authentic?”  I mean first of all that any incoming text will be identified according to my contact list.  Then we explored this thought.  If the Holy Spirit were to text me concerning my walk, what Emoji’s would He use to alert me to the importance of the text?  If the Holy Spirit were to tweet me (correcting, guiding, teaching, convicting, encouraging, etc.) what would the # be?

Then we realized that we receive tweets from the Holy Spirit “All Day Every Day!” Truly, if Christ be in me, then His Spirit convicts and alarms me long before I am in a situation or before I speak an ill word.  I must long and be attentive to His tweets!  As my situations worsen or temptations become tougher, I should heed the #s.  Just one example: John, serve your wife today!  #Love her! #Eph525

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Derek Webb sings a song about a wedding dress...

I enjoyed celebrating my wife's birthday.  She loves birthdays and so I enjoy making the day special.  I am not lying to her when I tell her that with each passing year I still see her with the same eyes of that July evening in 1987, when all the guests stood to see the beautiful girl that drew all the attention.  Here comes my bride!  It is truly a magical moment in our culture when the music invites us to stand and behold the bride.

This week, I was struck with a powerful picture of the community at Wilson Hall and Carter.  In many ways, our community is similar to the community in Grant Park where Restoration Church will be planted.  Johnny Harvey shared with us that the people there “work to live and live to play.”  Many are on the fast lane with their days filled with activity and the weekend spent with their last thought about God or the church. Praying each name of the neighborhoods here, I saw a picture of Christ’s bride on Carter Road—Crosspoint.  Here she stands arrayed in pure white by the washed blood of the Lamb, a gathering of the redeemed people, and I saw no one standing. The picture saddens me.  Can you imagine a beautiful bride, a groom awaiting her march down the aisle, and everyone is sitting, sleeping, playing, talking and totally oblivious to her presence?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Grow To Go!

On our farm in Tennessee, you will often encounter the Hedge Apple tree.  This tree was used in the mid-nineteenth century as a natural hedge—a living fence.  It has a fruit thought to be hazardous to cattle but recently has been proven non-toxic.  If the cow dies from eating the fruit it is usually from choking.  It also has the common name Bodark.  I have cut and burned much of it to create more grazing for our cattle.  Left unattended, a farm can be overtaken by this prolific tree. 

Kudzu may be a plant with which you are more familiar.  It has been dubbed “the vine that ate the south.” It is a plant brought here for the purpose of erosion control.  In the growing season, kudzu can grow one foot a day.  In its native land of China, Korea and Japan, it has many uses.  It is very interesting so you might want to read up on this vine that can appear beautiful; though we often consider it a curse to our landscape.  
  I am convinced that our growth in Christ is much more eternal than creating borders or stopping erosion.  Consider this with me—Grow to Go!  Often in churches we grow to grow.  We join one bible study after another to grow our faith to grow our faith and then to grow…you see my point. Grow to go! Looking at it another way, these two plants do teach us that very thing…Grow to go!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Knockout Punch

I love the sport of boxing and several weeks ago I watched a ten-round championship boxing match. The challenger convincingly won eight out of nine rounds and then was knocked out in the last minute of the tenth. I love pulling for the underdog, so I was in shock!   It looked like he would definitely win, but he didn’t see that knockout punch coming.

Within days of entering the ring, Jesus was betrayed.  He was delivered over to the religious leaders.  His disciples abandoned Him.  He was unjustly tried.  He was whipped and beaten. He was mocked.  He was spat upon.  He was crucified.  He died and was buried. It appeared that the challenger had Jesus on the ropes and hanging up His gloves.  He was put away.

Yesterday was like that tenth round!  Easter is the celebration we look forward to each year but celebrate every day of our lives.  Jesus has risen! He is the Victor!  He has overcome the enemy! Satan is knocked out! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

God's Not Dead!

A church slogan today that is popular in seeking to reach a different generation is "This is not your parents' church." So many of our children head off to campus universities that we must honestly recognize "This is not your parents' university." Parents and church leaders would be naïve and irresponsible to ignore the reality of secular institutions of education disproportionately favoring a stance that God is dead. There are awesome books written to help understand faith in Christ and how to defend one's faith--even if for self-preserving faith:  Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend, by Ravi Zacharias; Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics, by R. C. Sproul; Faith Has Its Reasons, by Kenneth Boa, Robert M. Bowman Jr.; and the Apologetics Bible as well as Rock Solid Faith Study Bible are a great resource for knowing what a Christian believes and why!" Hope this helps!
Go see the movie...Awe Inspiring!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Irony of Obedience

Due to persecution, Dimitri's children were growing up without a church family.  The nearest church was a three days journey.  Dimitri answered the call to pastor his children in their home.  He told bible stories and sang songs and prayed.  Others in the neighborhood joined.  The gathering grew until it caught the government's attention and the persecution began.  Dimitri's response to being called a church is below!  How ironic!
“How can you say that?” he argued. “I have no religious training.  I am not a pastor.  This is not a church building.  We are just a group of family and friends getting together.  All we are doing is reading and talking about the Bible, singing, praying and sometimes sharing what money we have to help out a poor neighbor.  How can you call that a church?” Dimitri, The Insanity of God, by Nik Ripken
Read the book!

Flight 370

I was so encouraged this week by the testimony of James Woods.  His brother, Phillip, is among the missing in this tragedy over the Indian Ocean.  When asked by reporters how they are handling the tragedy, he shared a family verse that is bringing them much peace and comfort. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.  James shared, “That is difficult to do right now.  But I don’t want to be cliché about our faith.  We are not just saying we will get through this by our faith.  But quite frankly, I believe in heaven and so I have a deep abiding hope and I believe God is sovereign.  Regardless of how this turns out, He is still God and He will get us through it.”  His love for his sister and brothers gripped me because I too love my brother and sister so very much.  I can only imagine the pain and agony of the heart for all the Woods family.  I love when faith shines though, don’t you? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Victory Dance

Satan and the powers of darkness hate truth and are opposed to good.  Lies are told and doubts are sown.  Sickness impedes and discourages.  Whispers from the enemy huddle in our minds and cause all kinds of stinking thinking.  Rumors are told or imagined to be told.  Misperceptions are written on our hearts as fact. Rights are claimed that stand in direct opposition to Christ’s command for us to die to self and love one another. I remind you that Jesus is the victor.  Satan is vanquished.  These are only temporary delays in the eternal victory dance.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Three Drives

In Wild at Heart, John Eldridge indicated three core desires in the flight to manhood:

  • A battle to fight
  • An adventure to live
  • A beauty to rescue
Several ideas to rescue your beauty:
Anticipate her needs (She doesn't like having to ask)
Listen when she is speaking to you (Put the phone/newspaper/remote away) and look at her and respond
God gave her to you as your helper—stop excusing yourself and being defensive
Love her and show it
Surprise her
Make this beauty to rescue equally pursued as the battle to fight and adventure to win

Just Ten Minutes

An old country song I often recount is “If You’ve Got Ten Minutes” by Joe Stampley.  The song centers on the hope that with just ten minutes we could fall in love. In ten minutes:

  • You can read the book of James in the Bible in ten minutes
  • You can write a brief note to someone, address and stamp it and place in a mailbox in ten minutes
  • You can call an old friend just to say, “I was thinking about you.”
  • You can stop by an assisted living home and visit a resident—that might be your mother—for ten minutes
  • You really can scrape ice off of a friend’s sidewalk in ten minutes—I promise
  • You can scrape off the ice on the windows of your wife’s or children’s car in ten minutes
  • You can stop and pray with a co-worker in ten minutes
  • You can share the gospel message in ten minutes
  • There are some jobs around the house that your wife has been asking you to do for six months that actually only take ten minutes
  • You can unload and load the dishwasher in ten minutes
  • You can make your husband’s day with a surprise snack bag and a note in his briefcase or backpack that says, “If you’ve got ten minutes, let’s fall in love!” and don’t forget the perfume
  • You can send your spouse that favorite song from when you first started dating in a link with a special note that lists several reasons why you still would say ‘yes’ all over again
  • You can make up your bed and pick up the clothes in your room without being asked

Bitter Roots and Ice Storms

While walking across the front of our church yard, I studied more closely why one of our own live oak trees lost a quarter of its shape.  To my amazement, right there in the origin of the split was a mass of roots high in the canopy but within the trunk.  Where moisture had collected in the V of that tree, I thought maybe a bird had sown a destructive seed.  Hours later, I walked out there again with a theory that maybe an acorn fell in the crevice.  Sure enough, there was evidence in other trees that given the right conditions, an acorn could get lodged there from the parent tree and sprout another sapling. Over the years, down through the trunk where that limb met, roots were doing their divisive work to compromise the strength of a mighty tree.  What just a week ago was a beautifully shaped tree now has the scar of that bitter root!
“See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:15

Monday, February 3, 2014

When January Wedding Plays...

Jesus likened His second coming to the groom about to enter the sanctuary.  He pictured for us ten maidens, five prepared with oil for their lamps and five with lamps low on oil. The lesson from this parable is that we do not know the time when the groom will come, so we are always to be ready. This is a good time to check the oil in your lamps.  Are you ready for Jesus to return?  Is your household in order?  Are you following His teachings?  Is your lamp shining brightly?

Po Grab Church

In a farm house in Tennessee, thirteen men sat in a circle.  Josh played a song.  Paul opened in prayer.  TJ and Simpson shared testimony. I preached in a style I imagined may have been common in the early church. I recalled the stories of Jesus.  We shared the Luke 5:1-11 passage when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him. I told the story while they read along.  Then TJ told the same story from memory. Then Paul told the story as if the Sea of Galilee was Rimini and Pack’s Landing.  Then Dayton told the story and presented it personally as if he were in that boat instead of Peter. Questions prompted everyone to speak up who could recount a teaching of Jesus or a scripture from the Bible that illustrated their point.  It was special. It was experiential. After receiving prayer requests, Coop closed our service with prayer for each request given and we sang “Amazing Grace.”  We experienced true worship, real life discipleship, and intimate relationship.  We experienced a moment where our hearts burned within us as we recounted the words and teachings of our Lord Jesus as if He were right in the room with us.  He was there and that room will never be seen in the same light.  I pray that hearts in the room also will forever be changed.